LISTEN: Visit Scotland Tourist Drive Starts

Stunt biker Danny MacAskill has backed a new tourism drive promoting the spirit of the people of Scotland and declared: "There's no place like it on earth.''

Historic locations such as Edinburgh Castle have previously been used to attract visitors but the wit, warmth and determination of Scots is the focus of a fresh global campaign by tourism bosses.

VisitScotland hopes to raise the profile of the country and achieve a £1 billion growth in tourism by 2020.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was there and spoke to Heart:

MacAskill, who has become a viral sensation online, said he hoped the campaign would show "how amazing Scotland is''.

Speaking at Edinburgh Castle, he said: "This year there's a real focus on the people of Scotland. We're a proud nation and for a small place we make a lot of noise, so I think it's a great idea.

"We're friendly, determined, we're okay to laugh at ourselves, we're not too serious and like to have fun. We've got guts as well.''

A video of his death-defying 2014 ride along the hazardous Cuillin Ridge on his native Isle of Skye has been viewed more than 41 million times on YouTube.

He said: "I can't rave enough about Scotland and I try to promote it through my videos, to show the backdrop and maybe capture some of the feeling that you get.

"Whether it's the Cuillins on Skye or here in Edinburgh, there's no place like it on earth.''

Also supporting the campaign is First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Social Bite entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn and Olympic athlete Laura Muir - people said to ``embody the spirit of Scotland''.

A series of cinematic adverts, short online documentaries and a new interactive website will feature in the new push.

Social media is also being targeted, with the #ScotSpirit hashtag to encourage people to talk about their favourite aspects of Scotland and its people.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Tourism is one of the big success stories of our economy. Last year we saw visitor numbers up by 7% and we want to build on that.

"This is VisitScotland's first global campaign that is celebrating all that is great about our country, our landscapes, our scenery, our culture, our history, food and drink, and above all else our people.''

She said Scots are known for their good humour, warmth and determination.

"If you come to Scotland you can visit some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world in some of the most vibrant cities of the world and they're all close together because of our size as a country,'' she said.

"So, you can experience all of the diversity that this country has to offer and above all else you will get the warmest of welcomes.''

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